Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Mega Man Xtreme (Game Boy Color, 2000)


On the 8th day of Christmas, stuff your stocking with Mega Man. The two Xtreme games on the Game Boy Color are kind of interesting. I totally missed these in-era because I never had a GBC. Funny thing is, apparently this game actually works on a regular Game Boy too, and I didn't know it. So I could have played it! By 2000, though, I'd pretty much completely winded down with the original Game Boy. The last thing I played on it was Final Fantasy Legend 3 in late 2000 / early 2001 and that was it.

Regardless, the Xtreme duo are sort of a followup to the five Mega Mans on Game Boy in that they mix and match bosses. Except now, it's the X series.

War was beginning?


The intro of this game is stupidly long. I mean it goes on and on for minutes on end, and explains the ENTIRE X-SERIES BACKSTORY. Like you've never played any of them before. It's an endless, boring text scrawl that completely forgets the whole "show, don't tell" adage. This probably should have just jumped right into the action here.

Oh hey, it has Zero. Playable Zero, though? We'll see.

I have a few options right off the bat because I've beaten the game in the past. When playing for the first time all you have access to is Normal Mode, which gives you the first four stages and then the fortress. That unlocks Hard Mode, which is the second set of four stages followed by the fortress again. That unlocks Extreme Mode, which combines the two sets of four stages and gives you all eight, then the fortress.

Very weird setup IMO. Nothing is really any harder from one mode to another, it just varies things up. Playing Normal + Hard is basically the same as playing Extreme. However Extreme just eliminates the middleman and lets you play everything upfront. Extreme is probably what should have been the default state of the game without having to do the fortress 3 times to actually beat the game.

In any case, I choose Normal mode for the moment.

There are only two control schemes to choose from: Have Start button dash, or have it do nothing. This is so awkward. Having the dash on Start just guarantees you'll dash into an enemy when you're trying to pause to hit a Sub-Tank. So I just disabled that part and just had it do nothing instead. So now when I'm furiously trying to use a Sub-Tank, instead of dashing into the enemy and getting hit, I'll have a momentary pause of waiting for something to happen and probably get hit.

The first stage is a re-creation of Mega Man X's first stage and highlights how inferior this version looks and plays. Well, points for trying. It doesn't have the charm of the Game Boy Mega Mans either, which tended to look really crisp. It's worth noting that you start with the dash in this game, which is awesome and at least gives this first stage a new angle.

We get a "Megaman Megaman!" cutscene not 10 seconds into the level! They're doing this whole thing where our heroes are going through areas they remember from the past because some central computer re-constructed them. They really didn't need to explain all of this as if the series has some kind of ongoing legit canon. Just drop us in the game and give us our mix of stages.

It may sound like I'm bashing on the game a lot and I guess I kinda am. This game has a bunch of baffling choices. Already seeing why I waited so long to cover it on here.

Vile now has his original Japanese name of VAVA. All I can think of is "Vava Voom"

In this one he's an actual boss fight that you have to win. And he's too tall to jump over! Luckily he only has half a life meter, but it's a loseable fight which caught me off guard.

We get more story, more cutscenes. None of it is interesting or important, so moving on to...

Normal Mode stage select gives us 3 bosses from MMX and 1 boss from MMX2. Interesting thing here is that they almost go in a circle, except Storm Eagle is weak to a weapon that isn't actually available in this mode. Storm Eagle beats Flame Stag, who beats Chill Penguin, who beats Spark Mandrill. Of course, even though Storm Eagle is the only one without a weakness, Chill Penguin is probably the best to start with.

Side Note: I think Storm Eagle might be the most appealingly-designed robot master in the X series. He's like the Pharaoh Man of X.

Alright, ya know what, this makes no sense to start with. After I beat Spark Mandrill I won't have anyone to use his weapon on. I'll just go ahead and restart on Extreme. I've got it unlocked and it puts everything in one place.

Here's the full set, and now it makes more sense. This brings the total up to four bosses from both X1 and X2, adding Wheel Gator, Magna Centipede, Armored Armadillo, and Morph Moth.

Xtreme 2 has two more from each game, plus four bosses from X3. Like I said, a lot of meat was left on the bone. Two bosses from X1 and two bosses from X2 didn't get used, along with four more from X3. Basically a perfect amount for an Xtreme 3 to close the loop.

Xtreme 3 would have had: Boomer Kuwanger, Sting Chameleon, Bubble Crab, Crystal Snail, Toxic Seahorse, Blizzard Buffalo, Crush Crawfish, and Gravity Beetle. They're hardly rejects, and would have made a good boss lineup.

Light Capsule! But I can already dash, so what powerup will this have?

This lets you long-jump off of walls...and crush blocks. Also X's legs now look like this:


The mech armors you find laying around now have the revamped X2 design. That means flight and spiked fists. Much better than the X1 model though I like the look of that one.

Chill actually hard? That's right, he isn't a complete pushover. Part of this is because bosses in this game have a TON of HP. I mean an endless well of HP that barely moves when you hit them. It's nuts. It feels like this guy takes twice as much damage as he does on the SNES.

The best bet is to get up into the corner, wait for him to leap, and shoot him out of the air with a fully-charged shot. He'll usually leap again right afterwards, giving you two good hits on him. Though with the new boot powerup, dash-jumping off of walls is fully automatic and something to watch out for in a fight like this where you might just want to drop down rather than go flying.

Here's what I think is the bad guy of the game, Techno.



So uh, he's the one manipulating the central computer to reproduce areas and bosses from X's past, or whatever. Does he even have a nose?

This guy looks more like a fearsome villain (or at least not like a total joke). He and another guy basically function as the new X-Hunters for this game, running out and doing Techno's bidding.

Spark Mandrill's stage is pretty much just like on the SNES. The music, visuals, item placement, and everything are mostly intact, just scaled-down.

I grab the first Sub-Tank, which only requires the boot powerup (to smash the blocks before it by kicking off of them). In the original game, the helmet powerup did that, even though it didn't make much sense. I assume the helmet powerup in this game still breaks blocks above you, since the boots can't do that.

This miniboss was actually kind of challenging. I think it's hands-down the roughest miniboss in X1 as it is.

Mental note for later, this stage has a couple blocks in the ceiling. What's in there? I'll find out whenever I get the helmet powerup, which I presume is still in Storm Eagle's stage.

Spark Mandrill does all of his usual attacks. This is kind of impressive since it's 8-bit and still pretty well animated. It's almost like a de-make ROM hack situation.

Freezing him still works, but has different properties than before. You can't chain-freeze him because of all the invincibility frames bosses have in this game, but you can hit him a second time while frozen to do extra damage (which I don't think worked in the SNES version of the fight).

Armored Armadillo stage! One of my favorites. This used to be where I filled Sub-Tanks in the SNES version. Here, that doesn't work, because bats only drop weapon energy. That's right, no health. I think they did this on purpose because so many people used this stage to fill tanks.

Same stage, with the same layout and the same music. Defeating a drilldozer before it gets very far lets you grab this Heart Tank. I did it ONE TILE in time to be able to get up here.

Armored Armadillo is still much, much easier with the electric weapon. Moving right along...

Morph Moth is the next stage I take on, and it's still creepy.

I don't have his weakness, but it's whatever. At this point I'm used to the bosses having massive health pools.

Next is Flame Stag. Everything's just like the SNES version here too. I was hoping for a bit more level variety here. Like, using the SNES versions as templates and reorganizing the level around the templates, rather than just 1:1 (or almost 1:1) copies.

The most important capsule in the game is here, the armor powerup. Reducing damage by half is pretty much crucial in this game for making any kind of progress. It's probably a good idea to actually beeline here early in the game and get this out of the way. I went for it pretty late, which made the game way harder than it needed to be.

Flame Stag...and we don't have his weakness, so I just use the buster. Again. This is a really fun fight because of the verticality of it and the agility of both participants.

The best robot master design in the X series. Look at this guy.

The Sub-Tank switched places with the Heart Tank, which means there's a super easy to get Sub-Tank right here at the start.

The helmet powerup is where it always was, and does the same thing. Only difference is that this doesn't break blocks when you wall jump off of them anymore, the boots do.

This is a pretty hard fight without a dedicated dash button. The wind gusts push you away faster than X can run, so you're just double-tapping constantly to try and fight it and if you fail a double-tap you slide back like 15 squares.

With the helmet powerup, I return to Spark Mandrill's stage to find out what that was in the ceiling.

It's...the weapon powerup, which lets you fire a new level of red charged shot that does a pretty solid amount of damage.

Next is Magna Centipede. I'm getting brain-confusion from all the bouncing between X and X2 levels.

Sub-Tank! The last one. Now the challenge is actually filling these things. It takes quite a bit more energy than it does in the SNES games for some reason, and only specific enemies regularly drop health.

Magna Centipede and his stage were probably my least-favorite part of X2, but I do like how the Silk Shot works in this fight. You basically pull off all his armor and fire it back at him.

The very last stage I do is Wheel Gator, because... there's no good weapon to use against this guy in this version, and the smaller room / worse wall jump controls make him the hardest of the 8 bosses.

The fight is an absolute mauling and I only win by bringing a Sub-Tank or two. I don't wanna talk about it

Sigma now pops up on the stage select. I guess we've dropped the pretense of him not being involved. A couple notes:

1) Notice how none of the boss portraits grey out when they're defeated? Matter of fact I don't think there's any way to tell on this screen what you've cleared and what's left. Weird.

2) It seems like Xtreme Mode doesn't have any cutscenes in it, so I have no idea what happened with the plot. Not sure why they made it this way since Xtreme Mode is the most sensible way to play it and they clearly had something invested in the story (given how massive the cutscenes are).

From what I can glean, Techno is revealed as being under Sigma's control and dies right before the fortress levels. His two goons then move on to being Sigma's two goons. No sign of Vile/Vava anywhere, so I guess he was only the stage 1 boss and was likely just some sort of copy created by Techno's computer.

There's also some guy named Middy who I just want to chuck through a flaming barbed-wire table.

First fortress stage is basically the same as Fortress 1 from X, though it has X2 enemies sprinkled in now.

At the point where you'd fight Vile, you fight Techno's two goons (now Sigma's two goons). First is the guy with the giant buster sword. This fight takes forever and is pretty tedious, because he's invincible most of the time. The indentation in the left wall also really messes up your evasive manuevers. I'd say this is almost definitely the hardest fight in the game. Harkens back to the time of Punk and Ballade being so much worse than the normal stage bosses.

Next is the other goon, who is like 5 times easier for some reason. Here's the upgraded charged shot in action. First half of the fight is basically a joke, second half he becomes super-aggressive but still follows a clear pattern.

After all of that, you still have to fight the spider boss. All in all this is the hardest stage in the game, easily, because of the trio of bosses. The spider was what I had the most trouble with in the SNES version, and the other two fights are nothing to sneeze at. The buster sword guy was even worse than the spider, and the cone-head guy was as tough as a normal boss.

After that I was out of Sub-Tanks. Looked up on the internet where to farm energy and there was NOTHING anywhere. So I'll publish my findings here. After looking around quite a bit, I found that these purple guys in Chill Penguin's stage (and a few others, but I went here) drop energy frequently. Probably about 30% of the time, which is way more than anything else does. They also drop extra lives, making this the perfect farming spot.

Takes a few minutes, but you leave with four full tanks and a bunch of lives.

Second fortress stage is X2's Fortress 3 stage. Kind of an odd choice because that wasn't a particularly fun stage. I guess they wanted to draw a stage from both X and X2's fortresses and this is what they went with.

The spikes and mosquitos are more of a problem without the Crystal Snail weapon available, that's for sure. I think you can get the Shoryuken here, as in X2. No Hadoken. I always wondered why X3 didn't complete the tradition and give X the Hurricane Kick move.

Next up is Serges. This is super weird and random and I wonder if the game's cutscenes gave it a rationale for happening. Same fight as X2, use Silk Shot to take out all the gun pods and then use whatever will land on Serges himself.

I like this fight a lot in the SNES version because it has a certain rhythm to it. It does here too, but it has the Mega Man X fortress boss theme for some reason which feels off here after decades of playing it with the X2 fortress boss theme.

Fortress 3 is the pod room from X2.

The bosses still have way too much HP, but at least I have weaknesses for everyone. Wheel Gator is still a PITA and I had to fight hard to not use a Sub-Tank.

Right after the capsule's Sigma! In his X1 form.

No dog, huh? Nope, we're going straight into this fight.

It's the same fight as before and pretty easy by just using the wall. After this fight they're nice enough to give you a stage break, then the last stage is just the final boss:

Surprisingly, while almost everything in this game is harder than in the source material, this one fight is easier.

Jump up here and just pelt him with Armadillo Shield, which does a ton of damage. Normally he'd knock you off the wall and the Shields wouldn't reach him without jumping off, but neither is the case here so you can just spam it and win.

From there it just goes straight to credits. Damn, not even an ending cutscene?

Maybe I played it on the wrong mode after all. Either way, after reading a story synopsis, we didn't miss much.

Last up, here's a "How Far Can I Get" video for this game where I play...well, a lot of it.

This is an interesting game, but I see why nobody remembers it fondly like the five Game Boy Mega Mans. Those all have a certain style to them that compliments the NES versions by being just familiar enough and just different enough. These Xtreme games on the other hand just come off as subpar versions of their SNES counterparts with much worse controls. There just wasn't any good way to convert a SNES Mega Man game to a system with fewer than half the buttons.

I kinda wish they'd done a third Xtreme game because they left a lot of meat on the bone (in terms of bosses/stages from the first 3 X games).

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